If you read this blog very often, you know I’m a big fan of the stats package, Mint. Mint is awesome for giving you all kinds of information about your site’s traffic. However, one thing it can’t tell you is how many people are subscribing to your RSS feed.
I’ve been wanting this capability for quite a while now, and after a little research I decided FeedBurner was the solution. I switched the feed about a week ago. You didn’t notice? Good, that’s the way it is supposed to work.
Basically, you re-route your feed(s) through FeedBurner, and then they are able to tell you how many people subscribe, what reader they are using, and a whole bunch of other nifty services.
The two things I was hoping to avoid when making the switch, were having to go in and muck with my WordPress template, and losing the subscribers to my current feed. The awesome WordPress FeedBurner Plugin, by Steve Smith, solved both these issues.
The default WordPress installation actually serves up three versions of an RSS feed. (1.0, 2.0, and Atom). The FeedBurner Plugin automatically re-routes all of those feeds to your new FeedBurner feed, and then back again. So, your current subscribers shouldn’t have to do anything. The existing feeds will work, and will be tracked by FeedBurner.
That being said, nothing is 100%. If you are having trouble reading this feed, try the new FeedBurner feed instead.
FeedBurner offers a variety of feed enhancements, like making it as browser friendly as possible, as RSS reader compatible as possible, and “FeedFlare”, which allows to to add all kinds of little extras to your feed… like “email this”, del.icio.us bookmarking, etc… And, if you’re a PodCaster, FeedBurner has some great tools for managing your PodCast feed, like adding the appropriate meta data to make your feed more compatible with iTunes.
There are a couple of other items I’ll mention about FeedBurner. First, there does seem to be a slight delay in feed updating, when I write a new post. I imagine this is due to all the re-routing of the feeds. It’s not a bad delay, only a matter of a few extra minutes.
Also, when you sign up for FeedBurner, it does seem to take a few days before it can give you accurate information, so don’t be discouraged when you first sign up and see only 12 subscribers.
Lastly, FeedBurner offers a little “chicklet” to place on your site (if you want), showing how many subscribers you have. The chicklet numbers were different then the live subscribers numbers, and I couldn’t figure out why. I later learned that the live subscribers number was up to date as of the moment you checked your stats, where as the chicklet was a static number from your highest number of subscribers from the previous day. So, don’t be surprised when these numbers differ.
Feedburner offers too many services to go over all of them here, but needless to say I’ve been pretty happy with them so far. If you are looking for a way to track your feeds or PodCasts, you should take a serious look at FeedBurner.
Oh, and to bring this topic back around to the opening statement… there’s even a Mint Pepper (plugin) that allows you to keep tabs on your FeedBurner feed.
Best of all, everything I’ve mentioned here is FREE!